Parental burnout is something that I would never have anticipated before having children. Both Olivia and I have been through a lot over the last few years. Fertility treatment, preemies and having twins has tested us more than we could have ever imagined. I understand now why the divorce rate is so high for parents of twins.
As hard as we have had it, nothing could prepare us how hard it is to have two babies at once. There is a constant demand and it takes its tole on your health. It takes a lot of sacrifice and change to avoid parental burnout.
To avoid parental burnout, you will need to work hard, be open to criticism and not give up. Giving up on your relationship is the easy way out. Accepting that you have problems and doing something about them takes bravery.
Olivia and I have had a lot of struggles of late and we have made some big changes in how we communicate and how we make time for each other. We have put some measures in place to protect our marriage and avoid us killing each other.
4 Simple Ways To Protect Your Marriage From Parental Burnout
1Accept Things The Way They Are
Olivia and I are like any parents, imperfect and full of flaws. A big problem that we have had in our relationship is that Olivia says “what if had just one kid” or “if only we lived in an apartment with a lift” or ” it could be better if we had more help”. There are only so many times that I can hear “if’s” and “could’s” before I start getting frustrated. This is one of the biggest reasons that we fight.
When you are a parent you often just have to accept things as they are. If you cannot accept them then you need to make changes. Talking about how you wish everything was different is a waste of energy unless you are doing something about.
When you have twins your energy is a precious commodity. You cannot waste the little energy that you have on “what if’s” . Acceptance of your situation is one of the first steps to conserving your energy and avoiding parental burnout.
2Don’t Always Give Solutions
This is my biggest issue and I need to keep working on it. I have spent my whole life solving problems. I’m at my best in high stress situations where I have to solve many problems quickly and decisively. This does not work well in a relationship.
When your wife comes to you with a problem she often just wants to be listened to as opposed to finding a solution. This is very hard for me to do. It takes practice to stop and listen but it can be done.
Now, when Olivia comes to me with a problem, I listen and acknowledge it without giving her a solution. It takes a lot of patience and I often have to breath deeply and put myself in her shoes. We are so different and the majority of the time my opinion and outlook is the opposite of hers.
Our outlooks are so different that she often thinks that I am disagreeing just for the sake of it. This is never the case. When she has a problem she can only so the problem and how it effects her. When I have problem I see an opportunity for growth and change.
This outlook has helped me throughout my life but it is not good for my relationship. Having twins and being close to parental burnout has caused us to fight a lot. These fights have given me a chance to reflect and change how I communicate with Olivia. Having twins has forced me to become a better listener.
3Be Kinder To Yourself
Another valuable life lesson that I have learned over the last few months is to be kinder to myself. Being kinder and less critical of myself has helped me to be less critical of others. I have learned to stop talking to myself negatively.
Meditation is a tool that has thought me to speak to myself in a kinder way. Recently, I read a book by Ray Dallio called principles. Ray Dallio is also billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist and a devoted meditation practitioner. He lives his professional and personal life by a set of principles.
This book can teach everybody a thing or two about how to live your life based on radical open mindedness and principled thinking. Reading this book has helped to me make better decisions. You simply just have to ask yourself are your decisions/actions in line with your principles. If they are not then you know what you need to change.
Principles are unique to each individual and you need to create your own. I use evernote to record principles that I try to live my life by. This list is ever growing and I try to look at it twice per week.
If you have read Dale Carnegie’s classic, how to win friends and influence people then you will know the following principle. Don’t judge condemn or criticise. While reading Tim Ferris recent bestseller, Tribe of Mentors, I came across a gem of wisdom.
It is a turbo powered version of the Dale Carnegie quote but it is not just for when you are talking about others. This is also true for when you are talking to yourself. Here is my principle for being kinder to myself and others.
When taking to/about myself or others I will not judge, condemn, blame, insult, demand, compare, label, diagnose, punish or criticise. All of these words are considered violent communication. Talking in any of these ways usually has a negative impact.
Trying to avoid talking to myself violently has resulted in me being kinder to myself. This has also helped to communicate better with Olivia. Being kinder to yourself will help you to avoid parental burnout.
4Getting A Good Babysitter/Nanny Will Help You To Avoid Parental Burnout
Finding a babysitter has helped me the most in avoiding parental burnout. This is something that we should have done a lot earlier. Instead of taking time for ourselves and our relationship we suffered for a year and a half.
If you are a parent and especially if you have twins then I cannot stress enough the importance of an extra pair of hands. If you are lucky enough to be in a situation where you have family members that are not working then you may not need a babysitter.
In our situation, we did not have much help as we only have a small family here in Berlin. They help when they can but work full time. Putting an ad online with strict criteria has led us to finding an amazing babysitter. She is an absolute sweet heart with tonnes of experience as an au pair, minding twins, and teaching art to children.
It is hard to find someone that can manage the stress of minding two babies at once. When you find that person then jump at the opportunity. Having someone that you can trust and is able to manage two babies at once is gift that will save your health and your marriage. The money is irrelevant when you take into consideration the positive impact that a good baby sitter will have on the whole family.
Life is a constant merry go round of happiness followed by times of struggle and hardship. When you become a parent nobody tells you just how hard it is going to be. If you are a parent of twins then it is even harder.
The last few months have been incredibly hard on me both physically and mentally. The challenges that we have faced have thought us some valuable lessons. It is often hard to see it at the time but you learn the most when you are going through a hard time.
It is important to step back and look at the situation objectively. Of all the lessons that we have learned over the last while finding a good babysitter was one of the best things that we have ever done.
Having time for our relationship and getting little breaks has made our lives so much easier. We have also learned to communicate with each other better and the importance of downtime.
If you feel like you are going through parental burnout then make sure that you make time for yourself and your relationship. As great as it is being a parent and ticking things of your eternal to do list, it is also important to relax and look after number one. If you do not look after yourself then you may be doing more long term damage than you think. If you end up with a serious illness because of parental burnout then your whole family will suffer.
Are you close to burnout? I would love to hear how you have beaten it in the comments below.